Welcome to the third in my Three Questions series, where I ask makers about their creative practices. I’ve been receiving Ellie’s newsletters for some time and I always feel uplifted after reading them – you may, too.
Ellie is a textile artist, writer, creative coach and explorer of self. She works with natural dyes, hand stitching, improv quilting and an instinctual process.
She teaches online and in-person workshops relating to crafts and art, but allowing space for people to tap into their inner creative whisper.
How did you get started on your creative path?
“It’s the way I’ve always been. I grew up in a very creative family and was always encouraged to make things, explore and experiment. After I had kids and stopped my full-time work, I picked up a lot of the things I’d done as a child and at school and TAFE. I started my own business sewing and screen printing – selling fabric panels and made items (purses, cushions and things). Over time people wanted to learn how to make them and, as I always love sharing and teaching, I started workshops.
“I guess what I do now is an extension of the things I did as a child – natural dye, doing wonky stitches on my quilting, seeing what happens when I try something different or new. The more I delve into my making, the more I lean deeper into what I enjoy and am good at, and that continues on.
“I’ve always loved fabric, the way it feels and the stories it tells in our lives. Working with natural plant dyes is an extension of games my sister and I played, beside our Earth-goddess mother, as is one small way that I embrace where and how I live.
“And in terms of my writing – I never knew I wanted to be a published author when I was a child, but I think that was mainly due to the fact that “that only happened to other people”. I’ve always written in some form or another, and value having an online space to evolve my writing style. Having my book Mindful Thoughts for Makers published last year was such an exciting opportunity, and now only makes me realise that anything is possible.”
What satisfies you about the creative work you do?
“The doing of it – I work with the process of making more so than the final outcome. I love that my creative work is a balm for the stresses and overwhelm of life (living in a busy family alone can be a lot!). I love that it’s a connection to my mother, to our ancestors through the stitch-work that I do, while also being a true representation of myself through the way that it becomes more of an art than a craft for me.
“My writing is extremely satisfying for me as it allows me to ponder big questions, to explore ideas and share them with the world. Having people read, see and connect with my work – be it my stitching, loom weaving, natural dyes, photographs or my writing – is satisfying in the way that I know my gift is helping others to discover their gift.”
How do you stay inspired to create?
“I realise that the physical aspect of creating things – the making – ebbs and flows. None of us are continually making and at our studio (kitchen) tables being productive. Having seasons where we allow seeds to sit quietly in our minds is as important as the seasons when everything feels so abundant. I know that I will never run out of ideas, so I don’t have to worry about that.
“My whole life is creative – from the way I place a flower on a table, arrange the fruit in a fruit bowl, serve food for my family or get dressed. So it doesn’t matter if I’m not always stitching, dyeing, weaving, writing – the other things become creative themselves.
“When I’m feeling a bit of a slump I allow the quiet time. I also hop off social media and pick up something – a project – that is small and doesn’t require much thinking. Some simple stitching, straight lines that don’t need me to be “too creative”. I find the process of doing that leads into the spark of more creativity. Pushing it doesn’t always work, but conversely showing up again and again is important for my creative work – though I am lucky that for me there are multiple aspects that I can show up to express my creativity.”
Follow Ellie online
Thank you Ellie, for sharing insights of your creative life.